Plagiocephaly in babies with eczema

John - posted on 12/30/2014 ( no moms have responded yet )

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We are migrants, my wife and I are South-americans living in Brisbane (Australia); ... this is the story of our beautiful boy.
My baby was born in Brisbane, a healthy baby,... just a bit chunky; very soon, when he was 1 or 2 months old, we realized a couple of things: he had eczema (allergic reaction to something) and he had a preference to sleep facing the left.
We couldn’t figure out what was causing his bad eczema (pimples and rush on his face and arms, etc) so the first thing we did was to remove the carpets and put some laminated floor in the house (I did that because I am dust-allergic, so I thought he was too)… I was wrong. A year later, an allergist told us that he was allergic to some foods.
In relation to his other problem (preference to sleep facing the left) we tried the same things that worked out for our older daughter as she had the same problem (torticollis) when she was a baby, and her head is now very beautiful and rounded. We used pillows, blankets, etc to try to limit his head movement to the left and we'd woke up few times during the night to make sure he was sleeping facing the right instead of the left (that technique is called "re-positioning"). I know now, we should have visited a physiotherapist or someone like that, but no one told us anything, doctors did not think there was a problem, our parents are overseas, and honestly, we were quite ignorant on the matter. I realized years later that there were physio for babies ….. anyway it was way too late.
So, in the first 3 months or so we couldn’t see any major problem apart from his persistent eczema. On the fourth month I started to notice that the shape of his head was awkward and we noticed that his torticollis had not disappeared; indeed, despite our efforts my baby still preferred to sleep facing the left. The situation started to worry me because it seemed that nothing worked. And the thing is that once your baby develops a flat spot on his head, re-positioning gets more and more difficult as the baby always looks for his/her flat spot to rest his head. I started to panic and doing my research, visiting doctors, you name it.
It can take weeks before parents start to notice their baby's misshapen head. The true is that few people actually look their babie's head from the top, because the babies are in a horizontal position most of the time or facing you (head to head); the only way to look at the top of their heads would be if the babies are able to sit down properly which does not always happen at that age.
We made an appointment to see an orthotist in the south side of the city (as far as I know, there are only 2 places in Brisbane where you can get a helmet to correct plagiocephaly; my baby had to wait until his fifth month to see the
orthotist.... it could have been worse,.... but in this sort of situations, time is critical.
Fights at home were common, my wife and I were blaming each other and the atmosphere was quite tense … how could something like that happen to our baby if we were trying our best? Yes, the problem can go under the radar and is not that easy to fix, and, what is worse, plagiocephaly can get pretty bad in a short period of time (let’s say, in a month) if nothing is done.
The orthotist saw my baby when he turned 5 months and he recommended us the helmet. My boy’s plagio was moderate (probably around 20mm),… it was very noticeable, and I was devastated, frustrated, furious. The orthotist said to us that the helmet would be ready in a month. so, we got the helmet when my boy was 6 months old (….. I know what you are thinking… it was probably a bit late) and his plagio had already improved before we tried the helmet (I would say, his plagio at this stage was 14mm or so).
We were told that my son had to wear the helmet at least 23 hours a day; well, Day 1 and Day 2 were sort of ok. On Day 3 his eczema started to get very bad due to all the sweating and he started to scratch his face,... it was too itchy for him. We felt frustrated and hopeless. We tried a band under the helmet but nothing worked so we gave up on Day 4. It was too much, my kid was feeling miserable and the eczema problem was getting worse so we did not want to try to fix a problem and triggering another one at the same time.
We felt terrible and did nothing for the next three months (months 6 to 9). My boy still preferred his left side. His plagiocephaly did not improve a single millimetre so I thought his head would not improve from there. Believe me, I couldn’t sleep well, I was tired, worn out, those nine months (since my boy was born) were the most stressful in my life.
I decide to call the second orthopaedics clinic, and oh surprise, they were fully booked for the next 4 months. Then, I decided to tackle the problem one more time. Given the circumstances, with no many options at hand, we decided to use aggressive “re-positioning” as there were no other treatment available for my 9-month old boy. During the day my wife will take care of him, at night I would wake up few times to re-positioning him.
I didn't notice any change until my boy was 13 months. In month #13 his head improve very noticeable, it was incredible, we both noticed it. I don’t care what the doctors say…. I only believe in what I saw. I was extremely happy with the results …… OK, OK, OK, I don’t know if it was the aggressive re-positioning or just a natural correction, my knowledge does not go that far (I don’t think the doctors know either, otherwise it would exist certain consensus). I would say that his plagio was 7mm or so.
It probably happened to you as well, sometimes you look at your kid and think his/her plagio is not too bad and some other days you look at the same kid and you feel devastated and guilty. But this time, it was not the case, my boy’s improvement was obvious; if it was a minor improvement, it probably would have been disregarded. I was happy if his head stayed like that forever, it was a bit misshapen but, at that stage, it was quite minor. I kept doing the re-positioning until he turned 2 years old, it was improving but very slowly, unnoticeable. His final improvement happened from month # 26 to month # 28. YES, HIS HEAD STILL IMPROVE AFTER HE TURNED TWO. Yes, what you have just read, his head improve a bit more after he turned 2 years old. Now, not even when his head is wet people would notice it. I know it is still slightly misshapen because I am his father but I know that once he grows older, his head grows bigger, it will be very difficult to find his flat spot.
Sorry for taking too long to tell you our story, ... here is my 2 cents contribution: if it seems that nothing really works, try aggressive re-positioning (and I really mean it), don’t give up until he/she is at least 2 years old, it is an slow process, and have faith in what you are doing. Finally, and I am not sure if this is true or not, but my perception was the plagiocephaly does not correct in an even manner over time, to me, it looks like nothing may happen in months and suddenly, in a month or two, you can see rapid changes; again, that's my impression, I might be wrong, but I can tell you... I looked at my baby's head every single week during the whole process. Keep the faith and best wishes. Regards.

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